Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Tourist in Own/Foreign Country: Tuen Ng – Dragon Boat Race Festival

Qu Yuan was a minister and poet of the Chu State during the Era of Warring States. The Qin state was the most powerful of all the 7 states. That’s why he suggested the king of the Chu state to make an alliance with the other kingdoms against the Qin. However the king decided to ally with the Qin. Qu Yuan opposed the alliance and therefore was banished.

Qu went back to his hometown. He travelled a lot and wrote some of the greatest poetry in Chinese literature. When he learned that the capital of his country has been captured, he wrote ‘Lament for Ying’. Later he walked to the Miluo river and committed suicide as a protest against the corruption during that time.

The villagers desperately tried to save him. They raced their boats across the river trying to locate him. They threw in packages of rice into the river to keep the spirits and fish away from Qu Yuan’s body.

This is the folktale behind the festival of the yummy ‘zhong’ (packages of rice in reed leaves) and the dragon boat races, Tuen Ng Tsit. Tuen Ng is on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. The day is celebrated by eating ‘zhong’, my personal favourite is the zhong with peanut my granny makes.

There’s also the yearly dragon boat race. I was never able to attend to one, because well I lived at the other side of the world. But this year it’s different! I went to the Dragon Boat Race Festival in Stanley with a few friends. I always knew I wanted to see the dragon boat race at least once in my lifetime. It was really fun! The beaches were full of spectators, the participating groups were really eager, saw some really funny outfits, the sun was shining (a little bit too much at times, but the water had a very cooling effect so it was good). All in all, I really enjoyed my time at the beach that day. We really should do this again next year!

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